Friday, July 9, 2010

Our Final Post

Our trip has sadly come to a close, but the photos, memories, and experiences will last longer than the twenty days we were in Boquete, Panama.

Thanks to Brie's wonderful and creative skills, we have a final picture that wraps up our grand adventure:

Here are a few of the many things we did, saw, and accomplished over twenty days:
1. Walked into Costa Rica
2. Bought and ate fruit in Costa Rica
3. Rafted down the Chiriqui Viejo river to within a mile of the Costa Rican border
4. Ziplined through the canopy and crossed over 2 waterfalls
6. Snorkled over millions of intricate coral and a plethora of brightly colored fish
7. Held starfish and had them get stuck to our hands
8. Played bingo in Spanish
9. Were within two meters of dolphins
10. Visited (and got lost) in a coffee farm
11. Watched a boat pass through the Miraflores locks of the Panama Canal
12. Drank coconut water through a straw from a coconut
13. Drank (and enjoyed) black coffee
14. Ate mangoes for less than 7 cents each
15. Got rained on everyday
16. Ate (and became addicted) to Yucca bread
17. Crawled under a crashed truck on a mountain

We just wanted to say thanks to everyone who read, followed, and commented on our blog. You all helped us still feel connected to home although we were more than a thousand miles away. Gracias por todo,

Con mucho y mucho amor,
Jessica, Alex, Caeley, and Hannah

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vamos a... Regresar :(

We just got through security in the Tocumen airport. Our taxi van was a bit late this morning, by about 15 minutes. Good thing we asked him to pick us up at 5:45 for an 8:20 flight so we still had plenty of time. We're all pretty groggy from waking up before the sun and the cheery hour of 5:15 am. Our suitcases are filled to the brim and checked and we all passed our pat down search (here, they pat everyone). Unfortunately, Alex seemed suspicious this morning so the security staff felt the need to search his entire backpack. Caeley, Hannah, and I watched while they scrutinized every piece of gauze in his travel first aid kit. We thought about visiting some duty free stores and then realized we have no need for alcohol, cigarettes, or anything from the Lacoste store in the airport. We quickly realized our gate had been changed without an announcement so we have to cross to the complete opposite side of the airport. We ran into a father and son who had been behind us in the check in line, told them of our gate change, and I talked to them a bit about our trips. They were here fishing at I believe the same port that my Uncle Jeff visits every year.

We still have over an hour before our plane boards which we'll probably spend ceremoniously eating our last Green Morning bread from our favorite Boquete bakery and trying not to fall asleep. We'll call you all when we get to Dallas.

Jess, Hannah, Caeley, and Alex

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hola everyone,
Hope all is going well and you are managing the hot nc summer weather!
Though it has been hard on us leaving the town that we have called
home for over two weeks, we have been trying to make the most of our
time in panama city. Yesterday we had fun exploring the mongo mall
connected to our hotel and we had a delicious meal at a
steakhouse...though only alex actually ordered steak and the really
delicious part was most definately the freah baked bread that they
served us beforehand. We enjoyed the musc playing, which Included
instrumental versions of 'hotel california' and 'can you feel the love
tonight'. Hot showers and sleep were nice also.

And today was our touring adventure! We saw the beautiful ruins of the
old city...we wish it wasn't destroyed by pirates so we could have
seen it in all of its incredibleness. We even picked some mangoes from
a tree nearby. They werent exactly edible yet :) but we snacked on
ripe mango and sugar cane later in the car.

We saw an amazing view of The city from The top of the plaza by the
French embassy. And later a neat church with a huge 24 karat gold
altar at the front. And of course the canal! We got to see a ship come
through, which included waving to all the sailors on the boat ;) it
was a Beatriz experience.

Lunch wrapped up a good tour with more good bread and food and the
world cup game. Viva España!

And now we're enjoying resting back at the hotel.

Abrazos and amor to all,
Hasta manana,
Jess, Hannah, Alex, & Caeley

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Panama City 1

Don't worry, we arrived here safely!

Our hotel is fabulous! It's definitely much nicer than anything in Boquete but it doesn't make us miss our town any less. We are looking forward to hot showers for the first time in a while. We are literally right next to possibly the biggest mall in town. The brand new 3D video screen they had said there were 260 stores, most of them we couldn't afford since they had American prices. The girls shopped a bit and Alex, well we don't really know what he did. But we all had a good time. Now we're sitting in our hotel room relaxing until it gets closer to dinner time. Then we're going to splurge on a nice restaurant since we haven't spent more than $3 on a meal in quite a while.

Also, we watched the end of the Holland v Uruguay game for all of those keeping up with the copa. We thought of our Dutch friends when Holanda came away with a win. We're still missing Boquete and all of our incredible friends there, even more since we got off the plane and it's real that we aren't there any more. Hannah says that she wants to buy one of the many little houses we saw in the town and move to Boquete and quit Carolina. I don't think Caitlyn would like that very much.

Just wanted to let you all know that we're doing well, even though we're sad and a bit tired from traveling.

Jess, Hannah, Caeley, and Alex

Saying "Hasta Luego"...

We, Caeley and I, have problems with the word "goodbye". We have considered handcuffing ourselves to our beds, superglueing our butts to the floor, taking a gap year, losing our passports, somehow injuring ourselves to get put in the hospital, anything to prevent our departure from this beautiful and majestic town.

But don't worry parents, we are at the airport right now. We figure it will be less problematic to just come home now and return for another adventure soon. We have some plans in the making and we know you all will love this place as much as we do.

Instead of saying "goodbye", we have resorted to saying "hasta luego", because WE WILL BE BACK...SOON. And in Spanish, "regresaremos pronto".

Our "hasta luego's" began bright and early this morning when we woke up to say "hasta luego" to our Papa before he left for work. He told us that we would always be in his heart <3

Since we were up early, we took the opportunity to watch the sun rise with Mama on their beautiful porch. Then we had a delicious breakfast of our favorite food that she makes: panqueis (pancakes). With a side dish of papaya, coffee, puffy and flavorful homemade bread, and apricot juice. The pancakes are amazing and unlike any we've ever had, and we now have the recipe!

Afterwards we chatted and contemplated many ways, even more then those mentioned above, about how to prevent leaving Boquete. We even tattooed our arms (with pen) to say "Boquete siempre". We realize you think we are going crazy, but apparently it's better to leave a place missing it because it means you've had a great time...or maybe we are crazy.

We decided to clear our heads with a walk down the road by our house, which turned into a walk through the fields in order to see an incredible view of the valley, complete with a running river, horses, cows, and many trees. Then it was time to say "hasta luego" to our Mama and hermana, Undina. They realized that saying it once and then pushing us out the door is the best tactic to avoid the pain and sorrow that comes with leaving.

We arrived in town and went one final time (on this trip) to our favorite grocery store, Romero, to buy some last minute snacks for the road...or sky. Then we went one final time (on this trip) to our favorite bakery, Shalom, to buy some Yucca Bread, the most mouth-watering, scrumdillyumptious bakery item you will ever eat, and it was fresh out of the oven. Later, when gave a piece to our friend Roy, he feel on the ground with awe of the taste. And Alvaro and Carlos, two other employees of Habla Ya, kept wanting more.

We always knew Boquete was a small town, where one could see friends everywhere, and we found this to be even more true when we saw Jessica and Alex running into a store together to buy some souvenirs (Jess says that she has bought too many to fit into her bag!). We hadn't planned on seeing them for another 30 minutes, but there they were!

We returned to Habla Ya, where our luggage was waiting, to say our "hasta luego's" to the staff...Roy, Swan, Alvaro, Armando, and Carlos. We managed to escape without shedding a tear. Now we are enjoying a nice Chocolate Mint Frappecino made with Panamanian coffee, while waiting for our departure.

For now, "hasta luego", and we will let you all know when we arrive to Panama City...

Love, Caeley and Hannah
(and Jess and Alex)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Suite Life of Zack and Spanish

This one is for you, Snoodles...enjoy :)

Love, Hannah

Cuatro de Julio

Our new and now very good friend Eric (shout out to Eric since he now has our blog address!), left yesterday so we spent his last evening in Boquete with him on Saturday night. We got to meet his host mother who is very nice and the new "student" that will take his place in the home once he leaves. The new guy is from Indiana, speaks no Spanish, is part Jewish, hates Duke and is hilarious. I think he was glad to find four teen-aged Americans to talk English!

Yesterday, Caeley and I (Hannah) hung out with our family for the majority of the day...we explored the garden, watched them make lunch, had some delicious and fresh blackberry juice, made bracelets, and made s'mores for them! Then Jess and Alex came over later and we taught them how to make bracelets and then we involved ourselves in a classic game of bananagrams.

After dinner, we all met up again, this time at Alex's house. We hung out, played more bananagrams, and scanned through the many tv channels. We found:
Toy Story in Spanish
Shrek in Spanish
Suite Life of Zack and Cody in Spanish (Sarah- I recorded some of it for you!)
Big Fish in Spanish
Monk in Spanish
and four channels dedicated to futbol
but we were not able to find any fire works!

Hope everyone had a very patriotic and fun 4th of July!
Today we plan on hanging around Boquete and Habla Ya to say goodbye to all of our new friends and family :(

Alex, Jess, Caeley, and Hannah

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Vamos a... Costa Rica

Today, we went white water rafting! It was so much fun! Our rapids were class 3+ and our guides, Jorge, Pepito, and Freddy were hysterical. Hannah was the only one who fell out though Jorge tried to pull me (Jess) in pretty early. He and the guide decided I had strong legs because they just couldn't pull me in. In reality, I had just wedged my foot under the side of the raft really well, we all did, so well that our legs fell asleep. We made some new friends too. We met a guy from Germany who was in the boat with us named Marcus. He studied Spanish in Panama City and was only in Boquete for a day before he began a really cool internship in a Panamanian hospital. After our rafting trip, we went to Costa Rica! But really, we went to Costa Rica in our bus and took pictures at the border. We bought some fruit in Costa Rica too though it tasted the same as in Panama. Unfortunately, we couldn't get our passports stamped because we didn't go far enough into the country. But we visited, another country to add to the list! Tonight is probably going to be a relaxed night since we're all pretty tired from rafting. Tomorrow, we don't have really set plans other than we want to find somewhere to celebrate July 4 with some other Americans.
Oh wait, I almost forgot, yesterday, for our last day of class, we went to David with Caeley, Alex, and my teacher Ericka and our friend Eric, who was in Hannah's class. We went shopping and drank fresh coconut milk, straight from a coconut, which was delicious.
Jess, Caeley, Hannah, and Alex

Friday, July 2, 2010

Caeley working on her homework during the game...

The Holland-Brazil game, check out all the orange!


We watched Holanda beat Brasil surrounded by many excited and not-so-excited (the Brasil fans) staff members and students outside Habla Ya. There was a lot of orange there!
Sorry for the quality of the video, it's more about the sound rather than the images...

Quick update on yesterday:
We walked around town in the morning, bought some DVD's in Spanish, drank strawberry and pineapple milkshakes, and then went out to lunch at our favorite $2/plate restaurant. We had our ice cream during class as always (Brie and Rachel) and then after dinner at our respective casas, we all went out to an event with the school.

This afternoon, we hope to go with the school to David for the weekly field trip, let's hope it doesn't rain! In a few minutes, we plan on returning to our favorite restaurant for another cheap and delicious meal...
Hasta luego!

Con mucho y mucho amor,
Jess, Alex, Caeley, and Hannah

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Our nerviousness this morning was subsided when we took our first ride
down one of the thirteen cables. We all managed to "break"
significantly each time, which means we didn't pull a "George of the
Jungle (Jorge de la selva)" and crash into a tree. Although it felt
like each ride went by so fast, we were able to pass over two
waterfalls and a lot of trees. We met (many) interestig and calming
guides who were pros at ziplining, even upside down and with no hands!
Afterwards we ate lunch at an American-like restaurant that was part
of the company's building, it even had American prices (gahh) and
American music (which we haven't heard in so long...especially Party
in the USA). Turns out we were hungry after, we figure that American
food doesn't fill us up as much after all this rice and carbs!

During the second part of class, my class (three Canadians and I) and
Caeley, Jess, and Alex's class went on a field trip together since we
are now all in the same level. Our hilarious teachers, Erica and
Ismenia, took us to Valle Escondido, a private and gated community,
mainly for retired Americans. And we really found out how the place
got it's name of Hidden Valley, there really are no people
the beautiful country club, on the pristine golf course, tennis court,
or horse stables. It was very very odd but felt like a dream village
and that we lived there. But then, the dream stopped when we entered
the pool was blue lighted, steamy, and had creepy horror
music that was supposed to relaxing. It felt like a murder scene,
especially since there were no people around. It was eerie and we were
glad to get outside to the living world.

Our teachers took us into the ampetheatre where we played charades in
Spanish. Afterwards, we continued our walk through the beautiful
community, and did not see another soul except for the Panamanian guys
who were employed to walk the "rich people's" dogs!

And don't worry Brie and Rachel, we did get our daily ice cream snack
before the field trip (although Jess didn't).

¡Hasta mañana!

Con amor,
Jessica (aka gatita), Caeley (aka ching ching), Alex (aka ALEXCHIN),
and Hannah (aka Hannah Montana)

After Zip Lining!

This is us after our zip line experience! We were all really hungry and had a bit of difficulty readjusting to walking without harnesses.

We just finished ziplining! It was exhiliarating and fast and fun! The
longest stretch was 400 meters, but it only took about 15 seconds to
complete since we were all going so fast! We are about to eat lunch,
but we have pictures and videos of it to upload after class today.
J, C, A, and H

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We are going to a dinner with the school tonight and it starts at 7,
so we have some to time to hang out before it starts! We found a
really nice bakery called "Shalom Bakery" (although Jess hasn't found
any typical Jewish foods here yet) and they have free wi-fi which we
are currently using. We bought a few pastries to snack on (only 30
cents each!) and we are working away on various things- Jess is
figuring out her classes for Duke, Caeley was talking to her parents,
Alex was just chilling, and I am writing this blog post for you all!
We had a good and filling lunch this afternoon at a restaurant called
Nelvis before our class started. During class it began to rain and
thunder, but by the time class ended, it stopped! In our 20 minute
break, Jess, Caeley, and I got our daily ice cream, it's only 1$ for
three scoops, ¡Que barato! (how cheap!). Anyways, we will be going to
dinner soon, and just wanted to give y'all an update! Hope you are all
surviving the heat!
XOXO, J, Caeley, Alex, and Hannah

Alex and Jess watching the game!

Watching the Paraguay-Japan soccer game outside the school! It's a
beautiful day, breezy and cool!

El Rio de Chiriqui, antes de que fueramos a la finca

This is the river that runs through Boquete. We crossed over and then climbed the mountain to check out the coffee farm that my (Alex) family owns. This was taken Friday, 25 June.

Monday, June 28, 2010

La mula (The really big Truck)

bocas and back...

Sunday continued the fun in Bocas when after a breakfast of pancakes and eggs and a lot more, we set off to go snorkeling and beach lounging. On the boat ride, we got to meet some dolphins. They were swimming right near where we were---we wanted to jump in and swim with them! Snorkeling was amazing too...the coral and fish were so colorful. Hannah even found some Brouhton colored coral :) The clear water is so incredible.

At the beach, (well besides getting just a tad of sunburn...) we enjoyed the water and a much needed siesta. We also had a yummy picnic lunch of sandwiches, fruit, nachos, and cookies.

Little did we know that leftover food would be in such high demand later! On our way home, we ran into an interesting situation...a huge truck that was blocking the entire road! Ay de Mi! So it was almost six and when we asked how long it might take until we could pass, we heard anything form 3 hours to "manana" (tomorrow). Needless to say, we decided to take the bus home to our Panamanian families (who we were quite missing). So off we went, crawling under the truck with all of our stuff, in the rain, and hopping on a bus to David. By the way, it was so crowded the aisle was not visible! The music was nice though...not really possible to dance to because of space limitations :) but we finally made it home safely to our families and dinner around 9:30. whew. and showers and sleep were wonderful.

We very much enjoyed Bocas and our Gran Aventura.

Mucho amor y abrazos (much love and hugs),

Jess, Alex, Hannah, and Caeley

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Bocas del Toro (aka Bocas del Beautiful)

Our day began bright and early and before the sun, at the hour of 5:30am. Only one other guy came on the trip, although there were three others from the school who came separately. We rode in a 2010-styled-VW-like-bus, it felt like we were hippies. The music was Spanish rap and helped wake us up! We zipped through the mountains, and at times it felt like we were on roller coaster! But don't worry, we are alive and breathing.
The mountains were gorgeous, massive, had tons of waterfalls, and we had the best view of the valleys and hills of Panama. We had to take a boat to get to Bocas since it is an island, the water was clear and green!
Upon arriving to Bocas, we watched South Korea score a goal on a TV, and then walked to our hotel, which is quaint and cute. Caeley, Jess, and I are rooming together and Alex is in a room with the other guy, Eric (who is French Canadian and speaks very good English and Spanish).
We then took a boat for a long time in the hot, intense sun to Isla Pajaros, a small island that you are not able to dock on or walk on. It's full of animals and we saw many birds!
Afterwards, we took the boat to Bocas del Drago, another part of Bocas del Toro, which is just absolutely gorgeous. It didn't seem real, it seemed like a postcard! We ate lunch there at a restaurant in the sand while watching the US/Ghana game...what a shame that we lost :(
The food was good, but way overpriced compared to our $2/day food costs last week!
Our tour guide took us on a long walk along the coast line and we ended up at a really nice swimming place which had a ton of starfishes! Our boat picked us up there and took us back to where our hotel is. This ride was much nicer since the sun wasn't as strong, the breeze was nice, and the view was (again) gorgeous. We have muchos picturas to show you all!
Right now, we are hanging out and resting at our hotel (which has wi-fi!) until cenar (dinner).
X0X0, Jessica, Alex, Caeley, and Hannah

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hoy Fuimos a la Finca! (Today, we went to the coffee farm)

As per the title of this post, we went to a coffee farm! It's the farm that Alex's host family owns. We took a very scenic walk up to the farm (it was difficult considering the walk was straight up hill at about a 40 degree angle)! We had a delicious lunch and then walked around the farm. It was an interesting trek since it was very wet and we fell a lot. But the view of the mountains and the town was gorgeous! Hannah and I were lost for a while when we were distracted by a little mariposa (that means butterfly). But we found Alex and Caeley and our host and returned to the house. Here are a few pictures from today!
PS we celebrated Spain's win in the World Cup with the other students and teachers after a group trip to a beautiful public garden.

Volunteering Day 2

Quick Observations:
1. They view the floor as being sacred. Or maybe dirty...we don't
really know why but whenever we try to put our bags on it, they
insist that we put them on the table.
2. The phone rings like a fire alarm and the ringback sounds like a
disconnected phone line.
3. Here, it is a good thing to eat A LOT. It shows that you enjoy what
they spent time to make.
4. Taxi are not limited to 5 people! This morning, Caeley and I
entered a cab that already had 3 people in it and then the driver
stopped to pick up another! They squeezed three people into the front
two seats!
4. The people are naturally very welcoming, warm, and affectionate.
They also are very proud of their country and their people, they even
view America as being ONE nation: Alaska to Chile, not just seeing
America has being the USA. We have an interesting story regarding
this idea that we will love to share later!
5. They love rice. We've been averaging two huge servings a day.
Anyways, we didn't have much to update you on since it's early, but we
hope you enjoy those fun facts :)
Caeley, Jess, Alex, and Hannah

Thursday, June 24, 2010

This morning was gorgeous and the sun is extremely intense...let's
hope there are no sunburns! We volunteered this morning for 3 hours
with the same kids, they wore us out from running around, jumping on
us, and asking us to spin them around! After we left, we headed over
to the grocery store and bough bread, cheese, ham, chex mix, and
chocolate and brought it to Parque Central to have an impromtu picnic.
We bought postards at a pharmacy, so expect to receive some in the
mail soon!! Now we are hanging out at the school waiting for class.
Hasta luego :)
Jess, Caeley, Alex, and Hannah

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Meet Roy! He has been helping us navigate through Boquete and volunteer with the children at Casa Esperanza. Today, he took us to David to see the city.

Boquete Day 3!

Hola Padres!
Last night we ate dinner with other Habla Ya students at a nice Hostel down the street from the school. They made us homemade pizza and gave us sooo much, it was delicious! We sat across from a Dutch couple, who were extremely nice and we had great conversations with them about Holland, university, and Panama.
We just got back our quick trip to David, which is the capital of the province we are currently in. We took a bus (only 1.45$ each way!) and walked around the downtown area. They have a big and pretty park, many cheap clothing stores (shirts for 1.99$) and delicious fruit that we bought off the streets.
We ate lunch at the same place we did on Monday, and we've learned to love rice and beans since we are served that at least twice a day! Our class starts in 10 minutes, so we are just relaxing now and trying to drink as much coffee as we can before it starts!
We have many pictures to show you, but we can't put all of them up, so we will give you a bit of a preview of our past few days,
Jess, Hannah, Caeley, and Alex

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hola padres!
Boquete is beautiful! The town is very small and the main street sort of resembles Kings Street in Boone. Check out the other video for a glimpse of the main road. This video is from our stroll through the forested neighborhoods near Casa Esparanza where we are volunteering. Our trip went smoothly and everyone has been having a great time. Our host families are very nice and cook us LOTS of food! It’s very delicious. The food in the restaurants where we’ve eaten lunch is cheap too. Our lunches cost less than $3!
The volunteer director Roy is very nice…He has been super helpful in learning Boquete--where we can buy cellphones, birthday treats for Hannah, and yummy lunches. We worked at Casa Esperanza (with the kids) today for the first time and he came with us. Los ninos are so great!! We played soccer and math games and read with them, and they loved having pictures taken (and there was also a little girl who loved to take pictures…those turned out with interesting angles J We are volunteering again Thursday.
Classes are good too…we have homework though ahh! Definitely the most helpful Spanish class we have taken, though for hours straight does get challenging. yay for coffee! Don’t worry. We’re not getting addicted. As Alex says “I‘m not addicted, I just need it every day…” The coffee really is tasty though, and some people in Boquete add lots (and lots) of sugar, though it actually is pretty good black.
Tonight we are going to a dinner with the others in HablaYa in a restaurant. We’re excited to meet even more of the students!! Tomorrow we’re going to explore David in the morning, and after class it is movie night!
We hope you are all doing well and se amamos (we love you!)
Caeley, Alex, Hannah, and Jess

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hola desde Boquete, Panamá!
We aré siting in the small cafe at the school right now! And we
earlier caught the end of the Portugal blowout World Cup game. We have
to go now, but just wanted to post a quite message for you all to know
we are okay!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

At the Albrook airport...

Waiting for the plane to David...

We just got a nice Scottish guy to take a picture of us in the Albrook
Hasta luego!

We have safely arrived in Panama! Our first plane ride went well and
we are currently waiting for our domestic airplane to David which will
be leaving at 4pm (5pm your guy's time). We will fill you all in once
we safely arrive at our host family's homes.
I've attached a photo that I took coming into Panama City. The
landscape is very pretty and very green. Talk to you all soon!
Love, Alex, Caeley, Jessica, and Hannah

Vamos a... Miami

Tonight we're in Miami! After checking out the scene in Coconut Grove, we've sufficiently prepared ourselves for the hopping night life of Boquete. Actually, we're just staying with my family since we have an overnight layover. Our flight was relatively uneventful. Caeley was full body scanned when going through security in RDU. We thought about trying to play Bananagrams despite the fact that I was across the aisle from everyone else. Too bad we were descending so we didn't get to try. We met my Aunt and Uncle and Cousin at the airport and went to dinner in the Grove. The restaurant we chose wasn't necessarily family friendly since there was a very loud live band. Appropriately, they covered Van Halen's 'Panama'! Then we ate some delicious gelato and listened to the top 40 hits in Spanish. We quickly realized that we couldn't understand a word of what was being said. Maybe by the time we come home we'll be able to understand the songs. Tonight we're staying with my family in their living room and getting up early to catch our flight. It's been a fun first day of our adventure and more excitement is sure to come when we actually leave the States tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Panamanian Map and Flag

10 Dias Mas

Hey all,

I want to start off this blog! For all family members, friends, and/or others reading this, thanks for visiting and taking part in our exciting and exotic adventure to Boquete, Panama. While down there, we will (hopefully) be updating the blog each day, with a different scribe each day. Also, look for pictures! 

Only 10 days til our journey...